Early Exit?


Rose will keep Thibs in Chicago

Jackson By Scoop Jackson

Yes. Very simple answer. Tom Thibodeau will be the Chicago Bulls' coach through the end of his contract as long as he has something to do with it. A day beyond the end of that contract is a whole 'nother set of questions, issues, problems and concerns.

The question is: Are the Bulls going to fire Thibs, buy him out of his contract, trade him or decide to go in another direction before the end of his contract?

It's the unknown and unfinished that is a bigger draw to Thibs than him opting out of his deal before it expires. That unknown and unfinished exists in the form (and future) of Derrick Rose. By the beginning of next season, it will be close to three years since Thibs had a legit feel for what he and Rose can build together when not interrupted by injury.

Not often do head coaches get to coach MVP-caliber players, and when they do, they tend to stick with them. Thibs, in the matter, will be no different. The three years he has left on his contract with the Bulls he will begrudgingly do his best to honor just to see if that Rose who blossomed under his auspice will ever return --- or ever be the same.

Let's be real, the Bulls not bringing back Thibs' lead assistant coach Ron Adams over the summer and trading away his favorite player in Luol Deng last week will weigh heavily on Thibs' decision to stay. Those incidents also might create issues of trust and confidence that could (will) eventually turn into media reports of further management/coach disagreements and dissension.

But unless Gregg Popovich leaves San Antonio, Doc Rivers gets fed up in L.A. or Phil Jackson comes out of hiatus/retirement, then there isn't a better coach alive for Reinsdorf/Forman/Paxson, Inc. to publicly justify a decision on their end of parting ways with Thibs before 2017 without having a citywide revolt against the organization.

By that time, will the relationship between the Bulls' front office and Thibs have run its course? Probably so. But until that time, matrimony.

Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN.com.

This relationship likely won't last

Friedell By Nick Friedell

Tom Thibodeau doesn't always see eye to eye with the decisions made by Chicago Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson.

That isn't really unusual in pro sports -- many coaches have differing opinions regarding the choices their front office makes for the short-term and the long-term. The difference for the Bulls, and the reason I don't believe Thibodeau will finish out his contract in Chicago, is because those differing opinions became public and feelings on both sides began to sour.

The front office didn't like the minutes Thibodeau was playing some key players, especially in games in which many felt the outcome already had been decided. Thibodeau, like many coaches around the NBA, wanted to coach his team his way -- without any intrusion from the powers that be.

Next came Thibodeau's contract extension. After nailing down the deal and announcing it before the start of training camp, Thibodeau didn't actually sign it until the spring. It was a decision that miffed the front office and became a headache that neither party wanted to deal with.

The biggest division between Thibodeau and his bosses came last summer when Forman decided not to bring back assistant coach -- and Thibodeau confidant -- Ron Adams. It was a decision that Thibodeau did not agree with. The decision to move Luol Deng last week was another decision Thibodeau didn't agree with, even if it was the right one for the future.

These incidents are part of the reason the relationship frayed, but the thing that likely makes it irreparable is the fact that the Bulls are several years from competing for a title again. Winning usually cures most ill will between coaches and front office executives.

With the front office deciding to retool the Bulls' core and Derrick Rose's future uncertain at best, there's a very good chance that Thibodeau will explore the possibility of leaving before his current deal expires.

If it comes down to it, a parting might be an amenable conclusion as long as the Bulls can get a future first-round pick for their coach.

Thibodeau changed the culture of the Bulls, but every coach's voice grows tired over time in the same organization. As much as Thibodeau wants to win a title in Chicago, he knows that the championship window for this team closed when Rose went down again, and it might be a few more years before it opens up again.

His relationship with Forman and Paxson could ultimately result in a divorce, and that might prove to be best for all moving forward.

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.


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